Who cares how good N.J. schools are if their students flee after graduation?

By Matt Rooney

There’s a new study out which you may’ve seen or heard about in the news, Save Jerseyans, trumpeting New Jersey’s public schools as the second best in the nation.

I have my issues with the methodology but that’s besides the point (for the purposes of this post anyway), and God knows our school funding formula and our urban failure factories need to be a part of that discussion. Another time, another post.

Let’s assume for argument’s sake that New Jersey public schools ARE tops. The Murphy Administration and the NJEA will celebrate these results as an alleged validation of their worldview. 

Counter-point: What’s the point of having good schools if no one can afford to stay here? And pay taxes? After we’ve invested a fortune in their education?

It’s a common theme in this tax-smacked state of ours.

President Obama during his 2016 Rutgers commencement speech.

Believe it or not, the State of New Jersey will spend $8.5 billion in direct aid on its 577 school districts over this fiscal year. We spend, on average, about $20,000 per K-12 pupil. The raw total expenditure represents more money than the total budget of NINE U.S. states and roughly equivalent to the entire budget of Iowa; it’s also more money than the individual annual defense expenditures of TWENTY-FOUR COUNTRIES (including Greece, Mexico and Norway).

Millions more of our tax dollars, of course, go to support the Garden State’s public institutions of “higher” learning, too, led by Rutgers University, and Phil Murphy’s next big plan is “free” community college.

The end result for this massive investment of taxpayers’ resources, the single-largest driver of our worst-in-the-nation property tax rates: according to the National Center for Education Statistics, 31,561 high school graduates left New Jersey to attend four-year colleges elsewhere for the fall 2016 semester; a mere 4,299 came here from the other 49 states. That net negative outflow of 27,262 was the worst in America for 2016, representing a departure from a national trend of kids showing increasing reluctance to move far from home. It’s a problem that’s finally starting to get media attention

Now let’s review: we pay the MOST property taxes for schools which train future workers and employees for OTHER states. 

Our friend on the Left will cite other factors for this brain drain, and they’ll demand further investment to make colleges more “affordable,” never once considering that that boorish attitude — and the cost-driving impact of government subsidies — represent a doubling down on the same failed strategy that got us into this mess in the first place. It’d never occur to them to question their worldview!

I, for one, am a property taxpayer who’s past ready to slaughter some sacred cows. The status quo clearly isn’t working, and throwing more money at kids who are tripping over each other to cross the bridges is clearly not an acceptable answer.

The one thing worse than spending all of this money to live in New Jersey is subsidizing other states while our own continues to suffer.